Australia and New Zealand will host the 2023 Women’s World Cup in 2023 after a vote undertaken during a video conference of world federation FIFA’s governing council.
This will be the first cross-confederation staging in FIFA history since Australia is a member of the Asian confederation while New Zealand is within Oceania. The voting margin was a decisive 22-13.
That was far clearer than had been suggested on the eve of the vote when the Colombians and South American confederation CONMEBOL lobbied hard to obtain the support of the European members of the council.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino will be relieved. The joint bid from Australia and New Zealand had emerged as superior among the remaining challengers in FIFA’s evaluation report.
A vote for Colombia would have been political and been a major setback for FIFA’s organisational and administrative reforms.The 200-plus page evaluation document had scored Australia-New Zealand with 4.1 points from a maximum five in its proposal for the first 32-team women’s tournament. The bid was also rated the “most commercially favorable.”
The two other bidders were Japan, which scored 3.9, and Colombia, which rated 2.8. Japan subsequently withdrew its bid last week.
Colombian officials were infuriated by criticism of its potential in the evaluation report and observation that it would need a “significant amount of investment and support.”
The individual voting was published by FIFA and revealed that all nine European members of the council – including British vice-president Greg Clarke – voted in vain for Colombia. Ramon Jesuran of Colombia and Johanna Wood of New Zealand were recused.
It has not always been the custom for the FIFA president to vote but, in this case, Infantino cast his vote for Australia and New Zealand.He said: “We will organise the best-ever Women’s World Cup in 2023 in Australia and New Zealand. That is our ambition. This comes from the success of the last Women’s World Cup in France which was unique in terms of the impact this has had – a huge success everywhere – and we want to build on that.”
Wood said: “We are extremely delighted with the result. Colombia gave us a good run for our money but we’ve always said that it’s about working as one, making history and creating opportunities. We’ve been given a treasure and we will work towards having women’s football even more front and centre on the world stage.”